The Ninja Skool of Hip Hopby Andy Davis and Waddy Jones / 24.08.2010
Once upon a time, in a galaxy before Zef, Die Antwoord, Yolandi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek, before Max Normal.TV and Constructus even, there was a talented Jozi-based rapper by the name of Watkin Tudor Jones Jr. Back then, in the winter of 2002, I asked the young MC to write a series of reviews of his favourite hip hop albums. It’s been a year since Watkin Tudor Jones was euthanised, in his memory we wanted to publish some of his thoughts on hip hop past, present and future. We wonder what Waddy would have thought of new hip hop upstarts: Die Antwoord and their place in the canon of future hip hop?
“Hip hop is a really fascinating creature. It was born in a rough and tough part of town near the end of a very plastic disco era in New York. This fresh little fertile thing stayed hidden for a while impregnating its chosen ones with its special secret spore and then finally emerged into the mainstream and took over. It knew the mainstream would rape and pollute it, but it also knew that this sacrifice had to be made in order to open up the international/dimensional communication channels needed for the initiation of phase two.
Now I know this all sounds quite strange and stuff, but if you read my little intro again you will find it to be very concise and scientific. This is what future skool hip hop is all about. The human mind has the ability to process a thousand thoughts every one tenth of a second and if these thoughts are not focussed they then become emotions, these emotions in turn become needs. Have you noticed how kids can remember thousands and thousands of rap lyrics but keep failing their history and biology and whatever else at school. This ability to stock-pile information is completely unlimited and the repurcussive effects of such mind power is quite difficult to grasp if you are stuck in consumer mode. I will now give you a little run down on eight of my favourite future skool albums.
Doctor Octagon: Ecologyst
This is perhaps my favourite album of all time. It was produced by the Automator and stars a very talented young fellow by the name of Doc Oc. The listener is taken on a tour through the world of one severely warped genius as he conducts his various experimental operations and consultations. The album is sort of like a lo-fi, b-grade sci-fi porno and features artists such as Skaramunga, Mr Gerbick and of course DJ Q-bert, who has a tendency to invoke transcendental states with his alien-like scratching ability. My favourite track on the album is ‘Blue Flowers’ which explores the mind of one of Doc Oc’s mental patients. Another killer track is ‘Girl let Me Touch You’ which starts off like this: ‘It’s morning, seven o’ clock, you at my clinic. It’s me your orthopaedic gynaecologist. You looking pretty and fine, go ahead… Blow my mind, girl what’s wrong with you, let me take a look’. The Automators zenned-out touch is indescribably beautiful, so I’m not even going to try.
Handsome Boy Modelling School: So… How’s Your Girl?
This project was a groundbreaking gem. It was produced by Chester Rockwell and Nataniel Matthews and was actually an advert for the modelling school they had just opened. It features such artists as Dave (De La Soul), Mike D (Beastie Boys), Del ‘The Funky Homosapien’, Hatori, Sadat X and Grand Puba (Bran Nubian), Sean Lennon, Kid Koala, Moloko, El-p (Company Flow) and the list goes on. It is an incredibly intelligent, light hearted fusion of hip hop and gentle, post-rock sort of stuff. This album crunched all the silly hardcore joints coming out at the time with the lightest of touches. The stand out track for me is ‘Metaphysical’ by Hatori featuring Mike D, which breaks down the extreme evilness of the entertainment industry in the most prettiest and subversive of ways. Like: ‘Inter-dimensional, trans global marketing schemes designed to entrap the masses.’ Nicely put hey…
Kut Master Kurt: Masters of Illusion
Produced by Kut Master Kurt featuring Motion Man and Reverend Thom. Ridiculously sick beats, crazy nice cuts and two of the most impenetrable MCs ever to grace the mike. These cats are so fresh… so so fresh! Five seconds into a verse and you start to remember why you started loving rap in the first place. Motion Man is by far my favourite MC at the moment. He switches his style almost schizophrenically from track to track, and sometimes kicks whole joints without using one rhyming phrase. Reverend Thom is a grandaddy on the mic and maintains a beautifully aggressive edge, without being at all offensive. The lovely thing about the album is that nearly every single line is completely multi-meaninged and the plot just seems to get thicker and thicker every time you press play. My best track is ‘I Got Conversation’ which is all about broke love (as in no money).
Kool Keith: Spankmaster
For me, Kool Keith sort of invented rap or something. The other stuff everyone did before him was just like, laying the foundation for what he created. He’s not my favourite MC, he’s more like my dad or something. He lives in his own universe and he would probably get pissed off at me now for saying so many nice things about him, but I don’t care. This is his latest composition and is, once again, completely removed from the entire hip hop scene as most humans know it. Mr Thornton has the tendency of re-inventing the term hip hop everytime he wakes up in the morning. He destroys his recipes everytime he hits us with another offering and I just noticed that I have not actually talked about this album yet. Mmm, actually I don’t feel like talking about this album. It’s on the list of my favourite hip hop albums ever and Kool Keith is my best friend in the world and I can’t wait to meet him.
Deltron 3030: Self Titled
This album is produced by Dan Nakamura who has been sent to earth during this dark hour to help free the humans from the evil forces that are presently controlling them, but he would say I’m lying if you asked him. This joint features Deltron Zero who lives in a hypothetical, post-apocalyptic year 3030. It is a gorgeously intricate sci-fi which moves from scene to scene in a very epic, yet playfully fashionable way. Kid Koala cuts it up as innovatively as humanly possible (so,so delicate) and there is also an appearance by the new-comer Paul Barman who rips one of the illest verses I have ever heard (no exaggeration). It starts like this: ‘What’s happening? I wear my dreadlocks in a napkin ring, rap and sing. I’m like the homogenous clones, I’m into earth tones, birth stones and errogenous zones…’ Deltron Zero, the hero of the story is on this wonderful mission to develop a virus that will crush the dark lord’s computer system and revert us to papyrus.
Cibo Matto: Stereo Type A
Ciba matto are these two cool Japanese chicks who live in New York and have the most prettiest ability of bringing it like no one else. They kick this particular jint off by fusing old skool, 80s style rhyming with love boat like melodies and keep morphing from track to track as experimentally as possible. The opening verse sparks like this: ‘Working for vacation, walking for meditation, watching television for as long as I want. People got science but make no sense.’ They the best, so fun and like, joyous you know… rare these days. The album features a whole bunch of super tight instrumentalists and has a very slinky, easy moving, live feel to it. it is a very pleasant little religious experience to be in ear-shot of people who love what they do so much.
Infesticons: Gun Hill Road
This is a very very strong album indeed. It features a whole bunch of well-respected undergroundcats who all take it upon themselves to represent untitled. The hook of the title track goes like this: ‘God bless the Infesticons. Fuck the Majesticons’ and has a very old skool, superhero theme song type feel to it. The album is all about these peculiar little things that were born in a dustbin called Infesticon. They venture forth into the world and soon find out that it is being controlled by these flashy, evil beings called Majesticons. The Majesticons had cast these powerful spells over all the people who thought they were the coolest things ever. The people were so voodooed out they failed to notice that they had all been turned into these like, mindless zombie-slaves. So the Infesticons move through them unnoticed, waking up the ones who still know how to wake up. This surreal little adventure story has a lovely metaphorical feel to it, you know what I’m meaning.
Constructus: The Ziggurat
Mmm… ok, where to begin? This project has been put together by a mysterious bunch of characters that I actually don’t know much about. It is, however, one of the most fascinating audio-visual experiences I have ever been subjected to. The album is actually the soundtrack to a movie which revolves around the lives of Random Boy and Kidtronic who both live on this huge, autonomous, floating megalopolith that soars several thousand feet above the Earth’s surface, following the sun. Another interesting thing about this project is that it is presented in the form of a gorgeous little comic book with a bonus CD that just sort of like, comes along with it. Musically, nothing I’ve ever heard fused before, very difficult to describe… minimalist, dreamlike, sci-fi realism at its best. Lyrically, well, let me just interrupt myself here and say that this is definitely one of the most dangerously valuable little packages ever to go into production.
So there you have it, all done. In a nutshell future skool hip hop is just some edgy, post cynical, good old fashioned, mainstream manipulation that has been sent to save the world.”